Akamizu Hebi’ishi Shrine – Home of the Snake God

Yesterday I finally took a trip to the shrine I had always wanted to visit since I first arrived in Aso a month ago.

Being fascinated by snakes since a young age, I could not wait to see the worshipped white snakes of Akamizu Hebi’ishi Shrine.

The shrine is located halfway up a mountain road just off route 57 and can be reached in approx. 16 minutes by car from Michi No Eki Aso.

Upon arriving, you drive through a large red Torii gate to a parking area just opposite the shrine’s entrance walkway.

entrance

The shrine is surrounded by woodland and a beautiful park with a small lake where you can see local flowers in bloom.

lake

Located close to the entrance are stone snake statues where worshippers have placed little monuments assembled out of rocks, I am assuming to bring good luck and fortune.

statue

The entrance and walkway up to the shrine is very picturesque and lined with lantern statues on either side.

gate_walkway

Just before arriving at the main shrine, there is a natural water source just off to the side which can be used to cleanse yourself before entering the shrine.

water_shrine

After praying at the shrine’s altar inside, you are able to purchase an array of charms including a very cute snake designed wooden tablet to write your wishes on. This tablet can then be hung outside the shrine in the hopes of making your wish a reality.

tablets

From leaving the shrine, you can make your way up to visit the white snake gods that are revered and worshipped by both locals and visitors from all over Japan.

The snake gods are thought to bring prosperity to business but in recent years have also been attributed to winning the lottery.

The snakes are kept in air conditioned glass rooms and can be viewed from all sides.

snake_room

Peering into the first glass room, I was immediately greeted by this majestic creature, its eyes were hypnotic and I could have watched it for hours. Really wanting to hold the snake, I reminded myself that these are not pets but sacred creatures with a god status.

snake

Whilst not being able to touch the real snake, there is a statue in front of the glass that should be stroked 3 times for good luck.

snake_statue

Continuing on from the first room, there is an ancient looking staircase up to the second snake enclosure.

stairs case

The second room appeared to contain either a baby or at least a very young snake that was incredibly cute, with beautiful big eyes.

baby_snake

Very close to the second enclosure were various small Buddha shrines including a shrine at a small cave opening. The Buddha statues were dressed by locals with handmade clothing as a symbol of protection for children.

buddha_statues

Making my way back down to the entrance walkway, I noticed a small room, I had missed on the way, containing ceremonial clothing with dragon masks.

dragon

I was very glad with my time spent at the Akamizu Hebi’ishi shrine and enjoyed viewing the captivating white snake gods. I will definitely return again from time to time as I found the place extremely relaxing and tranquil.

Who knows maybe the visit will also bring me great fortune in the future.

If you have time in Aso, I would strongly recommend a visit.

Thank you for reading and hope to see you soon in Aso.

Oliver

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